Possible Cornwall strike to affect county services

Update: After this story went to print, talks between CUPE and the city broke down. The union is presently on strike. A release from the paramedic service issued Thursday morning asked for 9-1-1 to be used for essential calls only.

Ambulance service may be reduced to emergency response only

CORNWALL – Starting Thursday, residents in South Dundas who access services from the Counties provided under contract with the City of Cornwall may find reductions due to a potential strike.

The Canadian Union of Public Employees locals representing outside and EMS workers in Cornwall have been without a contract since September 2016. As of 12:01 a.m. May 17th the union will be in a legal strike position.

According to a release from the United Counties of Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry, affected services include paramedic, social and housing, child care subsidy, Ontario Works, and social housing.

“[Paramedics] are an essential service, and have to sign an essential services agreement before they strike,” said Bill Lister – paramedic services chief. “There will be paramedics still working, even in a strike action.”

Lister said that during a strike, paramedics will only respond to emergency calls where “life, limb or function of life,” is involved.

All non-essential calls such as patient transport between hospitals, or moving patients for doctors visits between nursing homes and doctors offices would not be answered. An exception to that are oncology appointments as they affect function of life. Those calls will still be answered by paramedics.

The last time the union local struck was in 2007. Lister told The Leader that during that two week strike action, call volumes dropped by 90 per cent.

Paramedic services are the only emergency service affected by the potential strike action. Other services may see reductions in staffing and office closures.

For social housing, all inquires must go to the Cornwall office located in the justice building (340 Pitt Street). The Winchester office will be closed during any strike action.

Families applying for the home child care or child care fee subsidy will be required to travel to the Cornwall office for their application.

People applying for the Ontario Renovates program, social housing registry or the rent supplement program need to call 613-933-6282, extension 3315. Leave your name and a call back number for staff to contact.

Meanwhile applications to the homelessness prevention program are required to go to the Cornwall office to apply.

Approximately 400 employees of the city are affected by the strike action.